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Determining the biomechanics of touch sensation in C. elegans

Elmi, M; Pawar, VM; Shaw, M; Wong, D; Zhan, H; Srinivasan, MA; (2017) Determining the biomechanics of touch sensation in C. elegans. Scientific Reports , 7 , Article 12329. 10.1038/s41598-017-12190-0. Green open access

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Abstract

The sense of touch is a fundamental mechanism that nearly all organisms use to interact with their surroundings. However, the process of mechanotransduction whereby a mechanical stimulus gives rise to a neuronal response is not well understood. In this paper we present an investigation of the biomechanics of touch using the model organism C. elegans. By developing a custom micromanipulation and force sensing system around a high resolution optical microscope, we measured the spatial deformation of the organism’s cuticle and force response to controlled uniaxial indentations. We combined these experimental results with anatomical data to create a multilayer computational biomechanical model of the organism and accurately derive its material properties such as the elastic modulus and poisson’s ratio. We demonstrate the utility of this model by combining it with previously published electrophysiological data to provide quantitative insights into different biomechanical states for mechanotransduction, including the first estimate of the sensitivity of an individual mechanoreceptor to an applied stimulus (parameterised as strain energy density). We also interpret empirical behavioural data to estimate the minimum number of mechanoreceptors which must be activated to elicit a behavioural response.

Type: Article
Title: Determining the biomechanics of touch sensation in C. elegans
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-12190-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-12190-0
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Multidisciplinary Sciences, Science & Technology - Other Topics, NEMATODE CAENORHABDITIS-ELEGANS, RECEPTOR NEURONS, MECHANOSENSORY NEURONS, PRIMATE FINGERTIP, TACTILE SENSE, MECHANICS, CHANNEL, MODELS, CLAMP
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10024314
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